Adoring the Divine
(Continued from previous issue)
Adoration of God through Work
Performance of work as worship leads to purification of mind, and brings us closer to God. Sri Krishna (Bhagavad Gita, 3.9) teaches that work not done for the Supreme Lord becomes a source of bondage, and advises us to give up attachment and do work for the sake of the Lord. Again, He tells Arjuna: If you are incapable of fixing your mind on Me or are unable to take to the yoga of constant practice, do work for my sake. For even by doing work for my sake, you will attain perfection. (Gita, 12.10) In the concluding chapter of the Gita (18.46) Sri Krishna gives an unequivocal assurance that adoration of God through work leads to perfection: “From Whom all beings proceed and by Whom the whole universe is pervaded—by worshiping that Supreme Reality through the performance of his work man attains perfection.”
Doing work as worship and surrendering the fruit of action to God is an important preliminary discipline for spiritual seekers. The seeker practices surrender to God, as taught in the Gita (15.4): “I take refuge in that Primal Being from whom has streamed forth eternal activity.” Swami Brahmananda gives practical instructions on how to adore God through work: “Always remember that through work you are serving the Lord. One can see Him with the eye of devotion. If you work with the idea of pleasing men, you will be disappointed. You will find peace and happiness only if you can remember the Lord. If He is pleased, the world is pleased. In favorable or in adverse circumstances, feel that you have none but Him and that you are serving Him through the faithful discharge of your allotted duties.” Swami Brahmananda teaches: “Remember the Lord always─before you begin to work, while you are working, and after you have finished.” He further says: “Learn to work for the Lord instead of working for yourself. Know that you are worshiping the Lord through your work. If you can work with this attitude, work will not bind you; on the contrary, it will improve you in every way─physically, mentally, intellectually, morally, and spiritually.”
Service to fellow beings is another effective way of adoring God through work. The spiritual seeker looks upon such service as worship of God, who dwells in the heart of the recipient. Swami Vivekananda considers such service to be superior to mere worship of God: “A rich man had a garden and two gardeners. One of these gardeners was very lazy and did not work; but when the owner came to the garden, the lazy man would get up and fold his arms and say, ‘How beautiful is the face of my master,’ and dance before him. The other gardener would not talk much, but would work hard, and produce all sorts of fruits and vegetables, which he would carry on his head to his master who lived a long way off. Of these two gardeners, which would be the more beloved of his master? Shiva is that master, and this world is His garden, and there are two sorts of gardeners here; the one who is lazy, hypocritical, and does nothing, only talking about Shiva’s beautiful eyes and nose and other features; and the other, who is taking care of Shiva’s children, all those that are poor and weak, all animals, and all His creation. Which of these would be the more beloved of Shiva? Certainly he that serves His children.”
(To be concluded) ─ Swami Yuktatmananda
Copyright© 2014, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York.